The McDuffie County School Board has had "A Tradition of Excellence Since 1872," but they continue to raise their standards in 2005. The McDuffie Board of Education will participate in the Georgia School Board Association's pilot program that helps school boards better evaluate their superintendent.
McDuffie Superintendent Mark Petersen said he first heard about the program at the GSBA annual conference last December, and he immediately applied to participate.
"It puts us on the cutting edge of evaluations with a facilitator at no cost to us," Dr. Petersen said.
Billy Johnson, GSBA board member, said the concept of the program is to redevelop evaluations in terms of performance standards. Mr. Johnson said the pilot program is a year-long process that identifies symptoms and sets standards.
"The superintendent reigns 12 months. There are no options to the board by law of how the superintendent should be evaluated. ... It's how the board functions that makes it successful. ... They really only have decision-making power during the board meetings, and that's where controversy happens," Mr. Johnson said in his presentation to the school board.
Mr. Johnson said the purpose of the evaluation program is not to find a fault and say "gotcha," but to discover what areas need improvement.
"The superintendent will know up front for the first time what is expected of him, and how he will be evaluated," Mr. Johnson said. "It is the board's collective evaluation that counts."
GSBA will provide a facilitator free to train the school board free of charge. There will be approximately three training days: two at the beginning of the program, and at least one more at evaluation time. The exact start date has not been established, as the preliminaries of the program are still being developed.
To see how the program will work in different-sized counties, the state board needed three school boards to participate. McDuffie County will join Jefferson and Cobb counties in the program.
"We ask teachers to perform well, we ask students to perform well, so of course we need to expect the superintendent to perform well," Dr. Petersen said. "Evaluating the superintendent should be a process, not an event."